During our trip to Blackpool over the Summer Holidays staying at Ribby Hall we were invited by Sea Life Blackpool to come along and feed the sharks.
I’ve been to Sea Life in Blackpool before (A Merlin attraction), often on a busy rainy day and have not had much chance in the past to really appreciate the work they do and have never had a chance to speak to any of the experts there either, that changed during our time at Sea Life Blackpool over the Summer and it was a really fascinating experience.
Outside of London, Blackpool is the next best place to use a Merlin Pass. It may even be ahead of London – and the absolutely best place to go if you’re a Merlin Annual Pass holder. Read more about what you can do in Blackpool as a Merlin Pass holder.
Our shark feeding slot was at 2.30pm on a Wednesday afternoon, but feeds usually take place on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon at 2.30pm.
This was the first thing I learnt about sharks that day – they don’t actually need to eat a lot!
As my Dad and I made our way up to the top of the large tank to feed the sharks I realised why you can’t take part in this experience unless you are over 8. You need to be able to follow instructions, you need to have some strength to hold onto the feeding pole and you need to not panic if you fall in – as you actually get close to the edge of the tank! I could imagine my kids at 7 and 6 being fine, but I also know some of that age who wouldn’t be so I understand the 8 year age limit.
Once we got to the top of the tank we realised that we were going to be able to feed Lulu too – the Green Sea Turtle currently living at Blackpool whilst her tank at Brighton is given a makeover. Lulu is 79 years old and will live till she is around 300 years old. Lulu originally lived at Blackpool Tower in the 1940s having been rescued from a company using her for marketing purposes and she wasn’t in great condition. Thankfully her life since then has been much kinder but she is so used to being fed that it wouldn’t be kind to release her into the wild. Lulu is a very feisty green turtle, holds her own with all the sharks, as only a 79 year old lady can do, and basically pushes them out of the way as she believes the whole area and all the food are just for her. I like her style and loved her immediately as you could tell the chap feeding her did too!
We started the feeding experience feeding Lulu – as she has to eat first – she was easy to feed and came close to the feeding pole as soon as it was put into the water. No issues at all. Lulu was beautiful and it’s clear she is going to me missed when she heads back to Brighton.
Following on from feeding Lulu we then took it in turns to feed the sharks; this was a little harder. Depending on the type of mouths the sharks had depended on whether they found it easy to feed from the pole.
Mike, one of the resident trained marine biologists talked to us about conservation the whole time during our experience. Happy to answer any questions we had and chatting us through how and why certain fish had ended up in the aquarium. Those that can are released back into the sea and those that can’t are cared for incredibly well.
It was incredibly clear this was not just his job and that all the team were passionate and committed to making the lives of the animals in their care so much better.
Things we learnt during our Shark Feeding experience:
Seahorses could be 15 years away from extinction. Only 1% in every 1000 eggs survive in the wild, as oppose to 4% in captivity.
Sea Life’s motto is – BREED, RESCUE, PROTECT – they’ve developed a system of care and best-practice animal husbandry that draws on decades of collective experience from their marine biologists.
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